MTG Annihilator: How It Works and What It Does

In this article I’ll break down everything you need to know about the Annihilator mechanic. I’ll also give my picks for the best cards in the game today.

Whenever a creature with Annihilator attacks, the defending player must sacrifice X permanents where X is the number following the Annihilator text.

This ability is pretty simple There is, however, still a lot to go over. So let’s get right into it!

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Annihilator?
  2. How Does It Work?
  3. FAQs
  4. How to Stop It?
  5. Best Cards
    1. Eldrazi Conscription
    2. Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
    3. Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
    4. Emerakul, the Aeons Torn
  6. End Step

What Is It?

Annihilator is a triggered ability featured only on colorless Eldrazi cards. This ability is super fitting for Eldrazi creatures. Since this ancient race of eternal entities are capable of destroying entire planes, it’s only right that an attack from an Eldrazi can “annihilate” an entire board.

How Does It Work?

The ability always comes with a number. Let’s say a creature has “Annihilator 4”. Whenever that creature attacks, the defending player has to sacrifice four permanents of their choosing. These can be a combination of any permanents they control, i.e lands, creatures, artifacts, enchantments, planeswalkers, etc.


When Does Annihilator Trigger?

Annihilator triggers during the declare attackers step. This is important since it means that the defending player can’t block with creatures and then sacrifice them afterwards.

If a creature with Annihilator attacks a planeswalker, the defending player can, however, choose to sacrifice that planeswalker. If so, the creature is still attacking, and can be blocked. It won’t however, deal any damage to anything if left unblocked, since the target of its attack is no longer on the battlefield.

Does Hexproof Stop Annihilator?

No, Hexproof does not protect players from Annihilator. Hexproof only protects players from effects that “target”. The Annihilator ability doesn’t target the defending player or their permanents. As such, the defending player still has to sacrifice permanents regardless of Hexproof.

How to Stop Annihilator?

So up to this point, stopping Annihilator might seem like a hopeless endeavor. But not so! There are a number of ways to stop this ability from causing you harm.

  • Remove the creature before it can attack. This is by far the simplest and most effective way to deal with the painful ability. Cards like Path to Exile and Assassin’s Trophy are perfect ways to get rid of your opponents creatures before they can hurt you. Note: You must remove the creature before it attacks! Once the creature attacks, the ability triggers; killing the creature at that point won’t stop you from having to sacrifice your stuff.
  • Play cards that prevent players from sacrificing permanents. If you’re looking for a creative way to stop the ability, there are several cards like Sigarda, Host of Herons and Tajuru Preserver that will do the trick. Keep in mind, however, that Annihilator is a pretty rare ability, so stuffing your deck with cards to prevent it probably isn’t a good idea. Unless your playgroup has a serious Eldrazi problem, that is.

Best Annihilator Cards

Eldrazi Conscription

Eldrazi Conscription

The first card on our list isn’t actually a creature. Instead, it’s a colorless enchantment that gives any creature +10/+10 and Annihilator 2! Eldrazi Conscription might be the most powerful enchantment ever printed, mana-cost notwithstanding.

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre is a 10/10 Eldrazi creature with Indestructible and Annihilator 4. And, on top of that, you also get to destroy one target permanent when/if you cast him. I say ‘if’ because Ulamog does cost 11 mana to cast. As such, it might be a better idea to try to cheat him in to play somehow instead of paying the mana-cost. If you can manage to do that, I think you’ll be just fine without the “cast” trigger.

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth costs a modest 10 mana to cast. 10 mana isn’t so much when you consider how crazy powerful Kozilek is. As soon as you cast it you get to draw four cards! Then, it has Annihilator 4, meaning whenever it attacks, your opponent is automatically down four permanents. And did I mention Kozilek is a 12/12? Indeed, there are few creatures in MTG as fearsome as Kozilek, Butcher of Truth.

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

emrakul, the Aeons Torn

Taking mana-cost out of it, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn might just be the most powerful creature in all of Magic: the Gathering. For a whopping 15 mana you get . . . well, you basically just win the game. It’s not impossible to survive an opponent playing Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, but it is extremely unlikely.

Emrakul can’t be countered. When you cast her, you get to take an extra turn after the current one. She has Flying, Annihilator 6(!), and protection from all colored spells! Oh, and she’s a 15/15! Ridiculous. All shall bow to Emrakul, the queen of the Eldrazi.

End Step

Annihilator is one of the coolest, most flavorful, and also most brutal, abilities in all of Magic. Its power level makes it unlikely that Wizards of the Coast will bring it back on new cards. We can always have fun playing with all of our favorite cards that are already out there, however.

Whether you’re looking to use Annihilator to terrorize your opponents, or looking for ways to survive it yourself, I hope you’ve found this article useful. I wish you the best of luck in all of your Magic endeavors.

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Joe Doak

I started playing Magic in 2015 after impulsively buying a fat-pack of Khans of Tarkir. It didn't take long for me to fall in love with the game, and it's been a big part of my life ever since. Nowadays, I play moslty Modern, Commander, and Limited, but also enjoy keeping up with Standard. Whatever the format, I always find a way to brew up janky decks, convince myself they're great, get proven wrong, and love every second of it.